old golf


When it was my niece’s 16th birthday a couple of weeks ago, Sis wanted to find fake car keys for her as a birthday present, because she can theoretically start driving lessons. Couldn’t find them, alas. As per sod’s law, this week I was tidying my drawer and what do I find? Car keys. Actual keys, not fake ones. These are for the golf. Those were the days when you need keys to open doors and start the car.


I loved that car, even though it was an automatic, a rarity in the UK. Those mark II golfs sure look fantastic. I mean, I like the mark III and subsequent models, but this one has a special place in my heart. I took very good care of it, even though poor thing it had to be parked on the street. I was T-cutting it one day and someone stopped and asked if I were selling it.

It’s more than likely scrap metal now, so I don’t need to hide the licence plate. The only available online information about the licence plate is that it was first registered in 1987-1988 (anyone can tell this, it’s an E reg after all) and in NW London. Nothing confidential about that, we bought it at Karmann in Barnet, which doesn’t exist anymore.



We had buffet shabu shabu lunch and were very full afterwards. Walked around the mall, then took mm’s car out for a drive. More walking around, no particular theme or aim. Too full for dinner, just had a coffee and dessert.

Been doing this quite often lately. She doesn’t need a car, sometimes she doesn’t use it for weeks. But it has been nice, giving us something to do and places to go.

The licence plate starts with RY, so she named it Ryan. I don’t get the need to name inanimate objects like cars or computers, then I remember that she used to have names for our cars in London. Have to ask if she can remember the names, because I can’t. I guess when we go for a drive, it’s like there are 3 of us rather than just two.

parking space cost


Met up with mm for church, dinner then parking space research. The landlord for her parking space has sold the space and even though the lease is till next year, she’s thinking of buying her own space. Such a weird concept, paying ridiculous prices for a car park space. Understandably, in many cities nowadays there is a price attached to parking space, but the sheer amount, wow. Even in the US, paying half a million dollars in Boston? Wow again.

There really needs to be more automated parking systems to squeeze more cars into limited parking space. That said, it’ll never work here, how could people’s maids get to the car to clean it? Oh yes, it’s almost impossible to find car washes, and most idiots who live in this city have slave labour maids to do their chores.

mm car


Met with mm to pick up her new car. Took a full 2+ hours for the dealer to explain everything to her satisfaction. Our plans for a drive went out of the window. Then we met up with the guy she will rent her parking space from, that was another 2 hours.

ractis and prius test drive

We test drove the Toyota Ractis yesterday, and the Prius c today. First the Ractis. It’s been Japan only for a while, only venturing overseas the last couple of years. Apparently it’s the Yaris replacement, and in Europe it’s known as the Verso. Standard Japanese compact hatchback. Everything is middle of the road, nothing spectacular. Handling a little light, not in the same league as the Golf we tried out on Monday. Like, duh. The test drive route involved mostly city driving and going up a fairly steep hill. There’s a 7-speed pseudo manual control that revs up the engine and makes the car go faster. I had better use of it than mm, she was too timid to step on the pedal. All in all, an “okay” car.

The Prius c is the smallest version of the Prius range, the sporty hatchback version. The selling points are price (the magical sub-US$20,000 mark) and the fuel economy. It’s the first time either of us had tried a hybrid car. Very impressed with the handling and fuel economy. City driving meant a lot of times it switched to the electric engine and it was very quiet. The biggest online complaints are lack of acceleration (0-60 in 11 sec advertised) and struggles to get uphill. Both valid complaints, but nothing too concerning for us. I found it noisy going up the hill, the same hill I had to switch to 2nd gear in the Ractis yesterday. Yet once it got going, we preferred its handling and performance. Probably due to the lower centre of gravity. Yes, it’s not fancy, no bells and whistles, no pretty flashing light gadgets. But, we’re not looking for bling.

There is a price difference, around US$3,500 between the two, with the Prius being more expensive. I was only there as the second driver to give my opinion, ultimately it’s not my decision.

golf test drive

Met up with mm at lunchtime to test drive the new Golf TSi bluemotion. Went up the steep hill, around the traffic and a little bit of accleration on a straight bit of flyover. Drives like a Golf, as expected. Smooth and stable and comfortable. But the acceleration is slower than we’re used to in other Golfs. Not quite perfect, but definitely at least 4 stars.

bbmm car hunting

shanghaineselunch eelnoodle

Met up for mm, she had car hunting on her mind having all of a sudden decided she wanted to buy a car. Had shanghainese lunch — eel noodles, snow peas with dried tofu and jellied pig’s trotter. It’s been a long time since I had the sautéed eels, used to have it a lot with my grandparents. Fried with bean sprouts and noodes, it was more filling and less oily.

Then went to a bunch of dealers, first to look at new cars. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford. Then to a second hand place. Saw a lovely BMW 118i that I liked. Not many golfs so we headed to the VW dealer. Booked a test drive for next week.

It was like going out with a good friend. That’s as much as I can expect nowadays. 10hrs together is better than sitting around like an idiot at home.



I’m on foot today. With all the excitement with the marathon, I also took the car to the dealer yesterday and they bought it back. The price is…better than nothing, less than I wanted. But I don’t have the time, and the more I procrastinate, the more it depreciates. Sigh. At the end, I had 3,660 miles on it. Two years of which about 1 year I wasn’t in the country to drive it. It’s still in perfectly pristine condition. Cry.

the trouble with my car


…is that I don’t want to sell it
…but I can’t keep it, cos I don’t live in the US anymore
…my ex-colleague was going to buy it, but then backed out
…so it’s been sitting idle for almost a year
…the battery is dead dead dead, I had to go get a new one
…I’m going to be more $$$ out of pocket because now I have to renew registration and insurance
…I love the little car, but I need to sell it

connect by hertz

I’ve done zipcar a few times now, and as car insurance keeps going up, it’s becoming more and more obvious that it was a good decision not to buy a car.

And now I have yet another optios, as Hertz, yes the Hertz, just launched a rent-by-hour electric car service in London. Same annual fee £50 as zipcar, and prices from £5 an hour, £50 a day. The biggest selling point is that all the connect cars are electric, and it looks like they have vans too. The downside is there are fewer locations, looks like hertz offices only. Still, these car club / sharing initiatives can only do good for the environment, congestion and even the economy. How so the economy? Fewer uninsured cars, fewer actual cars on the road, people saving money in one area and spending or saving in another…hey, I’m not Paul Krugman, so no deep think about economics and politics.

zip shopping


Got a zipcar again today. This time it’s another Golf “Goebels” which is about a block further away than the other one. Drove up to Tesco’s for a big-ish shop. I had it or 3 hrs, and it took me almost 1hr to get up to Brent Cross in the rush hour traffic. Plus 2 single-lane roadworks at West Hampstead, I came home via the A41.

Once I have the iphone4 synced I can start using the zipcar app. Nice.

zip shopping


Don’t have a car yet, but needed to go shopping for big stuff. So I got a zipcar. Very simple idea — sign up for an annual fee, reserve a car, pick it up from its home location, drive, take it back home. Fees are by the hour all inclusive, no extra for petrol, insurance or congestion charge. There are a few zipcars within short walking distance, and they all have names! I got Gainsberg, a blue golf for £5.95 an hour. I have a feeling I’ll get to know this one well, the other car there is an A3 which is more expensive. I unlocked using my zipcard, and the keys are inside. Didn’t take me long to get used to the car, it’s a golf for crying out loud.

Took it to Brent Cross, where I bought a microwave and a dyson vacuum cleaner. Then it was to Tesco for cleaning stuff, coke zero, drinks and snacks. I’d booked for 6 hours, thinking I was too safe. By the time I got home, unloaded and brought the car back, it was 5 hours already. This is a very convenient way of getting a car, may be between zipcar and my bike, I can get by without my own car.

UK driver’s licence


To change my address, I had to get one of those new photocard driver’s licences. It was easy enough to apply online, they grabbed my photo and signature electronically from my passport and it arrived within a few days. For some odd reason it still has a counterpart in paper, which to me, defeats the purpose of switching to a convenient plastic card. Strange.

I don’t have a car yet, but I still have my 4 driver’s licences, it’s kinda hilarious.

car title


I paid off my car loan before I left Chicago. The car itself is still in Chicago, in my friend M’s garage, while she decides on whether she wants to buy it for her son. So now that the loan is paid off, I get the title back. Although I asked them to be sent to Car’s address, they (not sure whether it’s Chase or the State) decided to send to my home address. Luckily my dear neighbours B&D was watching out for my mail and sent it to me.

I miss my little car.

drive to work

When I opened my eyes this morning it was 7.02am. ARGH! I had a 8am conference call and should have woken 1 hour earlier. I got ready, but had to spend 10mins finishing paris on mw. Still, wouldn’t have made it. So I drove in. Half an hour. So why don’t I drive to work everyday? Because it costs 3 times as much as taking the “L”, and even though it was fast going in, it was a solid block of traffic on lake shore drive going home.

2000 miles on car


Took this about a month ago on the iphone and forgot about it. It’s not terribly clear cos of the sun, the speedometer reads 2000 miles. No change since I took it cos I hadn’t really driven anywhere. Yep, I’ve had the car almost a year and I managed 2000 miles on it.

car wash

The car was filthy (though Car said that since we can still see what colour it was, it can’t be considered bad). I love sitting inside the car when it goes through the car wash. And judging by the number of youtube videos, plenty of people feel the same way. It’s just like watching the washing machine, which I never tire of.

radio, sweets, rain

I left work early today to drive down to the dealership to get my radio installed. Finally. When I bought the car they couldn’t find the faceplate but for some silly reason they could only order the whole unit and that had to be replaced. Ah well, whatever, as long as I get some form of radio.

Then Car and I went to Walmart to buy sweets and stuff for our trip. While I was at it, I bought laundry stuff and shampoo and heavy stuff.

On the way home it started pissing with rain. Some people were still driving like maniacs, sigh. There’s recent talk about banning texting while driving, oh man these laws can’t come soon enough for me.

service loaner

car40loaner car42loaner

I took my new car back to the dealer to get a sealant coating on the paint job. Yes I know I can T-cut it once in a while to get it to showroom shiny condition, but well, I’m lazy.

They gave me a temporary car, what they call a loaner. Shows how Americans can’t live without their cars. This one is a tornado red Elantra, very easy to drive and, heehee, made me feel like I’m sitting higher up than the Tib. It also has huge stickers at the side and back that screams that it’s a loaner vehicle. Like LOANER !!1! Don’t sell me! I don’t belong to the person driving me, don’t blame me!!

my new car


The long and short of it is, I bought a car.

Thursday I went to a friend’s house to look at her 2 cars, both of which she needed to sell. I had my eye on one of them, an SUV that drove really really well and I was keen on.

Saturday I went out with Car and her family to carshop with her mom. It was a big Hyundai dealer, and her mom had her eye on a Sonata. So we were walking around the lot, full of all sorts of vehicles. I idly looked a a few, not having any particular interest in any of them.

Until, at the far corner, we came across this.

Small. Sporty. Shiny black. Red leather seats.


It was a 2008 Tiburon. I’d never heard of the model before. But it called to me. I looked, and looked, and looked. And Car said, go for a test drive.

It’s a manual 6-speed. Low on the ground. What can I say? It felt good. There was a touching story with the car, a father bought it for his son who had a terminal illness. It never got driven, though it was appreciated. The son passed away, and the car came back to the dealer, with under 100 miles on it. To all intents and purposes it was a new car. Original price $28k, and this week it just got reduced to just under $19k. A combination of the economy and manual transmission meant a few test drove but none took it on.

So I did. There wasn’t any question, from the minute I got in.



  • 2008 Hyundai Tiburon (aka Hyundai Coupe) SE
  • 2.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
  • front wheel drive 6-speed manual
  • front airbags, side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • cruise control
  • Kenwood mp3 sound system
  • power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof
  • red leather seats with black cloth inserts


I also got a nice deal on a 10 year warranty, half-price sealant treatment. I can’t stop touching it. Didn’t take me long to get used to driving it. I’m not gonna start raving on and on about it. It just feels right.

full set at flickr.

would you like to jacuzzi in my mini?

The Mini XXL is doing a tour around Europe and Asia/Australia. It’s a stretch limo that has everything a luxurious, OTT, souped up car should have: flat screen TV, DVD player, CD, radio, air conditioning, sunroof, full black leather interior and on-board bar.

But no, there’s more. There’s a jacuzzi at the back with detachable roof. Yes, jacuzzi. Here’s a post from when it was in Japan.

I wonder how this thing drives. I bet it’s a monster.